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HEL was founded in the year 1994 by Valdr and are one of the first German metal bands to deal with mythological themes in their lyrics and music. It’s been a long time since HEL have released their last album. Too long, I’d say. This is one of those bands that you can listen to over and over again and you will never get bored of them.
The album is a literary delight to describe, but almost impossible to do justice to in musical terms. When I seen the teaser for the new album, “Das Atmen der Erde”, I was extremely excited. Indeed, extremely. The album begins with a slow song, but it’s a nice vocal melody that sticks to your head immediately. It is clear from the first song why they actually needed so long to bring this record out. The band put a lot of energy into this release, their best release so far, in my opinion. This record is mostly covered by clean vocals, but don’t be afraid, there are also growls. The song structure is clear and completely independent without having many similarities between the songs. The production is clear as well. Good job!
At some moments the album gives you a slightly melancholic feeling. HEL also added some new elements that I would describe as rock and heavy metal influences. If we speak about influences, I can say that the legendary Bathory influenced them a lot as well. What remind me of Bathory are the backing vocals and choirs. An excellent example can be heard in the song “Wanderer im Nebelmeer”. Very nice!
The song “Am Grunde der Unendlichkeit” starts with an acoustic guitar and in the middle of the melody, almost from nowhere, mouth harp appears. This song contains clean vocals only, which fits perfectly with the guitar melody throughout the song. What stuck to my ear is the sudden change of pace in the last song, “Neun Gestade Tiefer”, when the band blasts your mind with black metal riffs and blast beats. To be honest, this album contains highlights only. It couldn’t get better than this.
Lyrically, most of the songs deal with nature, spirits, and natural elements – fire, water, air, and earth. The air occurs as wind, as breathing of earth in the song “Eroberer”. Fire appears as glow and water as rain and mist in “Wanderer im Nebelmeer”. The songs go through a change from light to dark. Some parts are influenced by Norse mythology and some parts remind me of a long bygone battle. Images of nature and forgotten times appearing in one’s mind’s eye. Beyond the nature-touched songs, the lyrics speak a secret language, for example, like in the monologue of “Wagemut”. Other lyrics tell about time, as in “Komm Zurück” and “Am Grunde der Unendlichkeit”. Interpreting the lyrics is up to anyone’s own.
I can’t point to any song as my favourite on this release. The whole album is a favourite.
You can’t get enough of this album – when it’s over you still want more and more. “Das Atmen der Erde” is a musical masterpiece with infinite replay value. Rarely can so much conviction and passion be heard throughout an entire full-length offering. If you have even a drop of relation with pagan metal or good music and art, this album will become a timeless treasure to your ears and mind.
Originally written for www.northwind-promotion.org